Turbo Driving

My wife's car is a Saab 9-3 Turbo. We were both attracted to the car for extremely different reasons: She loved it because it's a Saab. (Comfort, reliability, safety, gas mileage... all the things Saab is known for).

I was attracted to the car because it's a Saab 9-3 Turbo. Nothing says "big strong man" like a car with a turbo-meter next to the speedometer and odometer. I was hooked.

I love to drive that car, because I'm a Turbo kind of guy. It's a fun challenge to jump on the interstate and see how fast I can red-line the turbo-meter, and how long I can keep it at the red-line. It's a fun challenge, but it never lasts long. If I drove the car that way every day, one of two things would happen: I'd crash, or burn up the engine. The Turbo is supposed to be used for an extra kick when you need it, not for every day driving. Normal every-day driving needs to happen around 60-70 percent of the car's capacity, if not less. And that's a real drag.

I see a lot of myself in that little car. I love to push it. I love to red-line out, and challenge myself to do as much as I can as fast as I can for as long as I can. And ministry has a way of encouraging that kind of thing. Seminary has a way of encouraging that kind of thing. We don't do a very good job of teaching young pastors to live around 60-70 percent, if not less. And then all the sudden, when we're living at around 90 percent and something comes along that demands 20 percent, we don't have anything to give it.

But we feel guilty not being busy all the time. The folks that go to our churches already have the misunderstood notion that the pastor only works one day a week, and we are bound and determined to prove them wrong.

Many of us go to seminary because there we know we will get to spend 4 (or more) years learning the Word of God, and we want to give it all we've got. So we punch the gas and give it everything we've got. After all, we feel guilty taking less than the very best grade in a class because we feel as though it is a direct reflection of how serious we are about spiritual things.

It isn't. In fact, it's the opposite. I'm pretty convinced that our guilt-ridden attempt to red-line our ministries is a direct reflection of a small view of God. "

"I'd rather burn out than rust out," I heard someone say the other day. Where's the logic in that? Either way, you're out.

I don't want to be out. I want to be in. And that means, I'm going to be learning how to live at about 60 percent. I'm going to need that Turbo later and I want to be ready.

Quote Me...

Thanks to Mark Batterson for this quote by Len Sweet.

"Ask the grandparents in your church: how many of you would lay down your life for your grandchildren? Every grandparent will raise their hand. Then ask them: how many of you would lay down your musical preferences for your grandchildren?"

What would it look like...

Kari and I had a good weekend at Pine Cove as a part of a leadership retreat for a church in Palestine, TX. The primary speaker for the weekend was Gary Brandenburg, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church Dallas, whom I've mentioned before.

He spoke primarily from Acts 2 this weekend, about the activity of the early church, and did a tremendous job.

As you're probably aware, Acts 2:42 says the early church gathered in homes and "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." They shared everything in common with each other, and the passage records that "the Lord added to their number daily those who are being saved."

Many pastors I know point to these activities and say that they are the secret of church growth. If churches will study the Bible, fellowship together, and break bread together, they say, the church will grow.

The problem is, it doesn't work.

I know a lot of dying churches today that are committed to "teaching the Bible." I know a lot of churches today that could be characterized as "fellowshipping" churches - holy huddles of people who ought to just close their doors. And I know of a lot of churches that break bread together, but won't be able to pay the bills in five years.

Acts 2:42 isn't just a checklist of behaviors that cause churches to grow... even spiritually. There is more to this passage than a list of behaviors. Acts 2 records a general climate that the early church cultivated with the outside world. Verse 47 says the church "enjoyed the favor of all the people."

And yet they were different.

The church didn't become the culture. It didn't bow to the culture, but it attracted the culture. There was something about those people.

The church in America certainly doesn't "enjoy the favor of all the people." Why not? Perhaps because we've lost the identity of what makes us unique - and it isn't found in our list of rules. For too long the church has taken a negative view of what sets us apart: we don't drink, smoke, or chew, or run with girls who do.

But you can't define who you are by simply defining what you're against.

The Church has the greatest message in the world, but the world can't get past us to hear the message. That's a problem.

I'm not arguing for a loosey-goosey type of church, or a church that is soft on morality. But what would it look like to find a church that was agressive in showing the world what we are for before we gave them a the list of things we're against? What would it look like to find a church that lived out grace, as the church in Acts 2 did? What would it look like to find a church who modeled selfless sacrifice for others, as the church in Acts 2 did? What would it look like to be a church that had such a selfless passion for the good news that we proclaimed it as good news rather than something else?

What would that kind of church look like? If you find that church, let me know, because I want to be their pastor.

I Love These People...

Kari and I will be leaving tonight to be a part of a leadership retreat in Tyler, TX. We're excited about the opportunity to spend some time with the people of Grace Bible Church Palestine at that retreat. In addition, we're going live with a couple of big new programs at the church on Sunday. Add those together and you get my excuse for not blogging this week.

It's a sorry excuse for a post to post an excuse as a post, so maybe I can make things better. I saw this about a year ago, but Todd at MMI just reminded me of it. Check out my buddy John Daker singing an incredible medly of some of my favorite songs.


What's funny is, this kind of thing doesn't surprise me at all. Growing up in Columbia, Missouri there was a show that rivaled this one. Slim and Zella Mae singing southern gospel hits. Sweet people, I'm sure, but wow.

Total Truth

"Did you take a vacation from your blog?" "Did you quit blogging?" "Are you still alive?"

Yes, no, and yes.

I had every intention of writing up several blog entries over the Christmas break so that when my heavy class and work load started up this Spring I would have a queue of quality entries I could post. That intention got lost in a barrage of great football games, a couple of unexpected things at work, and a couple of trips I hadn't anticipated.

So here I am, embroiled in my hardest semester of school thus far, and I've got nothing ready to go. So bear with me.

Over the break I took an elective class at the seminary called "Contemporary Issues in Apologetics" that was taught by Probe Ministries . It was a one-week whipping I wasn't looking forward to, but turned out to be a very enjoyable and informative class.

One of the required books for the course was "Total Truth" by Nancy Pearcey. If you haven't read this book yet, it's worth picking up. Pearcey talks about the fact that the majority of Christians in the west live with a sort of undiagnosed schizophrenia; The worldview we believe we live (a Christian worldview) and the worldview we actually live (a secular/cultural worldview) are two different things. The vast majority of Christians today believe their faith has little or nothing to do with their occupation or lifestyle beyond defining certain moral codes. (We all know we shouldn't lie or cheat at work, but just those behaviors are not enough to call our worldview Christian).

One of the most helpful insights of Pearcey's book is that the majority of Christians begin their view of humanity too late. As we talk about theology, and even the Gospel, we begin with the Fall. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23) is the beginning of many of our gospel presentations. Pearcey argues that since the Bible begins with the Creation instead of the Fall, we should too. "Our value and dignity are rooted in the fact that we are created in the image of God, with the high calling of being His representatives on earth..."(page 87).

The message of redemption is one of restoration - we were created to have fellowship with God, and were created in the image of God to be His representatives on earth. The Creation account reminds us of God's power, character, and plan for His creation. Only when we realize those things are we able to better think about how we should live as believers today.

Interesting stuff.

About Me

I was born in Tulsa, OK but spent my "growing-up" years in Columbia, MO. For most of my high school days, I thought my life was headed toward a performing career on Broadway. I even took ballet lessons because someone told me it would help. Video evidence exists, but I'm sure you'll never see it. Then God got a hold of my life and everything changed.

I grew up Shi'ite Baptist. Not really, but I did grow up thinking that Christianity meant trusting Christ as Savior and Forgiver (which I did as a young child) and then keeping the rules for the rest of your life to make God happy. But I got fairly disillusioned during my teenage years because I started noticing that the people who made the rules didn't usually keep the rules.

When I went to college at Oklahoma State University (looking for my golden educational parachute in case Broadway didn't pan out), I kept going to church. I was, after all, a rule-keeper who didn't want to make God mad. On the first Sunday, I went to a church where the pastor was teaching from Colossians 2:6. When I realized I could serve God out of faith and gratitude rather than out of fear, my whole paradigm shifted. When grace "clicked," everything changed.

Over the course of my college years God completely changed my desires and transformed my life. The kid who once told someone "I will never be a pastor" all of the sudden couldn't think of doing anything else.

After graduation from Oklahoma State with a music education degree I headed to Dallas Theological Seminary where I received a Master of Theology but more importantly, where I met my wife.

Today, I'm the Lead Pastor at McKinney Church in Fort Worth, TX. I live in Fort Worth with my wife, our sons Casen and Cale, and our beagle named Sutton.